LUNGU EL­I­GI­BLE

Con­court rules Pres­i­dent Lungu can con­test 2021 polls

Daily Nation Newspaper - - FRONT PAGE - By NA­TION RE­PORTER

The court said in its judge­ment de­liv­ered yes­ter­day that Pres­i­dent Lungu was cur­rently serv­ing his first term in of­fice as his in­her­ited ten­ure that run from Jan­uary 25 2015 to Septem­ber 2016 af­ter the death of then in­cum­bent pres­i­dent Micheal Sata could not be con­sid­ered as a full term

PRES­I­DENT Edgar Lungu is el­i­gi­ble to con­test the 2021 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court has ruled.

The court said in its judge­ment de­liv­ered yes­ter­day that Pres­i­dent Lungu was cur­rently serv­ing his first term in of­fice as his in­her­ited ten­ure that run from Jan­uary 25 2015 to Septem­ber 2016 af­ter the death of then in­cum­bent pres­i­dent Micheal Sata could not be con­sid­ered as a full term

The court re­lied on Ar­ti­cle 106 (1) (6) stat­ing that it was clear that any term be­low three years would not be counted as a full term.

It held that un­der the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tion, ar­ti­cle 106 the pres­i­den­tial term of of­fice was five years and they should only be elected twice which brings it to 10 years but that it was also pos­si­ble for a pres­i­dent to be in of­fice for al­most 13 years.

Con­sti­tu­tional Court pres­i­dent Hilda Chi­bomba sit­ting with six other judges of the court read the judge­ment.

The court noted that the cir­cum­stance in which Pres­i­dent Lungu was elected into power were not pro­vided for in the con­sti­tu­tion but it was the duty of the court to in­ter­pret what the leg­is­la­ture would have done, had they had the sit­u­a­tion in mind.

“It could not have been the leg­is­la­ture’s in­ten­tion not to in­clude the in­cum­bent’s sit­u­a­tion. How­ever, it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the courts to in­ter­pret what the leg­is­la­ture would have done had they had the sit­u­a­tion in mind.

“We are of the view that the term of of­fice must be con­sid­ered so as to de­ter­mine what twice held of­fice means. The ap­pro­pri­ate step to take in in­ter­pret­ing Ar­ti­cle 106, in our view is that a pres­i­dent who served from Jan­uary 25 2015 to Septem­ber 2016 and strad­dled two regimes can­not be con­sid­ered to have held a full term,” Judge Chi­bomba said.

In this mat­ter, four op­po­si­tion lead­ers Daniel Pule (Chris­tian Demo­cratic Party), Wright Mu­soma (Zam­bia Re­pub­li­can Party), Robert Mwanza (Cit­i­zens Demo­cratic Party), and Pe­ter Chanda (New Congress Party) pe­ti­tioned the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to in­ter­pret whether Pres­i­dent Lungu was el­i­gi­ble.

They wanted the court to de­clare that Pres­i­dent Lungu’s first term of of­fice be­gun in Septem­ber 2016 when he was sworn in as Head of State and that his Au­gust 11, 2016 vic­tory was his first full term as Pres­i­dent of Zam­bia and there­fore he is el­i­gi­ble to con­test the 2021 polls.

They cited At­tor­ney Gen­eral Likando Kalaluka as the re­spon­dent in the mat­ter.

PF Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Davis Mwila joined as the re­spon­dent while the Law As­so­ci­a­tion of Zam­bia (LAZ) and the UPND joined as in­ter­ested par­ties.

Dur­ing hear­ing, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Likando Kalaluka sub­mit­ted that Mr. Lungu qual­i­fies to stand in 2021 be­cause he only served one year of the in­her­ited term as op­posed to a three-year term, which is con­sid­ered to be a full term in the new Con­sti­tu­tion.

And the pe­ti­tion­ers’ lawyer Bon­aven­ture Mu­tale also sub­mit­ted that Mr. Lungu should be al­lowed to con­test the 2021 polls be­cause his stay in of­fice from 2015 to 2016 did not con­sti­tute a full term.

Mean­while LAZ and the UPND op­posed the el­i­gi­bil­ity, bas­ing their ma­jor­ity ar­gu­ment on Ar­ti­cle 106 (3) of the Con­sti­tu­tion which pro­vides that “a per­son who has twice held of­fice as Pres­i­dent is not el­i­gi­ble for elec­tion as Pres­i­dent.”

Mr. Lungu was first elected as Zam­bia’s Pres­i­dent on Jan­uary 20, 2015 fol­low­ing the death of then in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Michael Sata on Oc­to­ber 28, 2014. He ruled for about one year and six months up to Au­gust 11, 2016 when he was re-elected for his cur­rent term.

Ac­cord­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tion of Zam­bia (Amend­ment) Act Num­ber

2 of 2016, the term of of­fice for a Pres­i­dent is five years and Mr. Lungu as­sumed the Pres­i­dency af­ter the late Mr. Sata had served three years and one month.

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